10 Supermarket Chardonnays Under £15

10 Supermarket Chardonnays Under £15

It might originate from a small village in Burgundy but with plenty of other regions trying their hand at growing this versatile green grape, chardonnay is now one of the most widely available wines in the world. But not all are created equal – and sadly, like so many things in life, the less you spend often means the poorer the quality. Here, wine expert and sommelier at Crocker's Henley, Gemma Aldridge, tells us more about this popular wine and selects her favourite bottles under £15.

First, tell us a bit more about where chardonnay comes from? 

Chardonnay originates from a small village in the Maconnais, Burgundy. Often referred to as ‘white burgundy’, the best bottles are powerful and rich, with complex fruit flavours and earthy, mineral notes. It is possible to find more affordable chardonnays from Burgundy – they’ll often be labelled ‘bourgogne blanc’ and are crisper and livelier in their flavour.

Is chardonnay produced anywhere else today?

These days, chardonnay is grown all over the world. Its ability to grow and flourish in a range of climates makes it perfectly suited for most wine producing countries across the globe – including America, Australia and Chile. These are usually referred to as ‘New World’ chardonnays.

What are some of the main characteristics of chardonnay? 

The flavours of chardonnay depend on the climate it’s grown in. It can range from being lean with crisp acidity and flavours of green apple and lime, to rich and oily on the palate with dense flavours of peach, apricot and honey. A lot of winemakers prefer to use oak to add richness and flavours of butterscotch and spice.

What’s the difference between oaked and unoaked?

Simply put, unoaked chardonnays have not been aged in oak barrels, so they likely taste brighter, crisper, more citrusy, and don’t have any tannins. If you like light-bodied white wines like pinot grigio, then you will probably prefer an unoaked chardonnay. Conversely, oaked chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, which gives it a distinct flavour and texture. Expect a medium or full-bodied wine with caramel, butterscotch, vanilla or toast notes mingling with the fruitiness of the wine.

And how is chablis different?

Chablis is a chardonnay-making wine region in the northwest corner of Burgundy. Unlike other chardonnays, chablis rarely uses oak-aging, resulting in a very different style and taste profile. It's because of chablis' reputation that the unoaked chardonnay style is so popular.

Why else is chardonnay so popular?

Because chardonnay is made from green-skinned grapes that are able to adapt to a variety of climates, it means winemakers can turn out versatile wines at a range of price points. It gives them plenty of artistic license to get creative with the taste. Chardonnay can be crisp and clean or rich and oaky – so there’s something for everyone and every palate, which is why it appeals to so many.

Is there anything you should always pair it with?

Generally speaking, lighter, unoaked styles of chardonnay lend themselves to dishes involving seafood, fish and vegetables, while big, oaky styles are a good match for chicken, pork and soft cheeses. 

And is it possible to find good ones on a budget?

Thanks to chardonnay’s ability to grow in all kinds of regions and climates, it’s now very easy to find good ones on a budget. Today, you’ll find even the very best producers have entry-level wines that are approachably priced. 

Intrigued? Here are Gemma’s top 10 picks under £15…

Klein Street Chardonnay, £6.50

Country: South Africa

Why I Like It: Klein Street’s chardonnay comes from South Africa’s cosmopolitan capital Cape Town. It’s fermented in stainless steel to retain its fruit character, freshness and flavours of melon, green apple, wild herbs and apricot. 

Pair It With: This is a dangerously easy drinking wine choice – and it’s a perfect match for seared tuna.

Available here 

Caves Road Margaret River Chardonnay, £9.99

Country: Australia

Why I Like It: This lightly oaked chardonnay is made for Aldi by winemaker Larry Cherubino. Larry’s wines often feature on restaurant wine lists and the quality of this bargain chardonnay is no exception. 

Pair It With: This wine has delicate nuances of hazelnut, mingling with apricot and fresh lemon. Its bright acidity makes it a perfect accompaniment for freshly grilled seafood from the BBQ.

Available here

Sainsbury’s Cotes Du Jura Chardonnay, £11

Country: France

Why I Like It: Cotes du Jura is in one of France’s most easterly growing regions. Jura wines are often overlooked but this great-value chardonnay is well worth a try. It’s slightly nutty, a nod to its region’s traditional oxidative winemaking, with super fresh minerality from the Jurassic soils. Expect notes of white flowers, peach and apricot. 

Pair It With: Save this wine for a rainy Sunday and enjoy it with a roast chicken or do as the French do, and serve it with a generous wedge of comté.

Available here

Simpsons Estate Chardonnay, £11.99

Country: England

Why I Like It: Simpsons’ vineyards are a stone's throw from where I grew up, so I’ll always make a bee line for their wine if I come across it in the supermarket. Its wines are a beautiful example of what the ‘Wine Garden of England’ has to offer; we had an exceptional harvest in 2018 across England and the resulting wines really rival their European counterparts. 

Pair It With: Because this 100% chardonnay is bursting with flavours of lime, apple, peach and melon, with a touch of creaminess on the palate to round off the crisp acidity, it makes for a great aperitif on a hot day. Enjoy it with goats’ cheese, light chicken dishes or seafood.

Available here

Bellingham Chardonnay, £12

Country: South Africa

Why I Like It: Maverick winemaker Bernard Podlashuk uses French oak to add richness and complexity, reminiscent of a good burgundy, to this generous chardonnay. The granite-rich soils add freshness and minerality to the wine while the high altitude of the vineyards allows for intense concentration of flavours. 

Pair It With: The rich flavours of butterscotch, cloves, melon and mandarin make it a beautiful match for mild, aromatic curries with buttery sauces.

Available here

Bonterra Chardonnay Organic Wine, £12

Country: USA

Why I Like It: This organic wine has everything you’d want from a Californian chardonnay. Bonterra ferments chardonnay, muscat and roussanne in American and French oak barrels to create a deliciously rich, buttery wine with flavours of pineapple, honey and almond. 

Pair It With: This wine is calling out for slow-roast pork belly or a deliciously gooey baked camembert.

Available here

Josef Chromy Roaring Beach Chardonnay, £12.50

Country: Australia

Why I Like It: Josef Chromy established himself as a quality wine producer when Tasmania was still a hidden gem. It’s Australia’s coolest growing region and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. The coastal influence adds a delicate salinity to the wine, supported by generous peach and melon flavours. 

Pair This With: This wine goes best with meaty fish dishes, like halibut or stone bass.

Available here 

Cuvée Royale Brut Crémant de Limoux, £12.75

Country: France

Why I Like It: Crémant is the often-overlooked little brother of champagne. Limoux produces excellent value-for-money, traditional-method sparkling wines. This chardonnay blend is 70% chardonnay, 20% chenin blanc and 10% pinot noir. It spends a minimum of 12 months on lees adding creamy, biscuity notes to the wine. 

Pair It With: Expect to find flavours of green apple and lime balanced with bright acidity – match it with freshly shucked oysters on the beach.

Available here

Chablis Premier Cru, £13.99

Country: France

Why I Like It: In restaurants we often hear the phrase “I hate chardonnay, but I love chablis”. Chablis is the most northern growing region in Burgundy and its chalky soils and cool climate produce wines far from the typical styles we associate with Burgundy. 

Pair It With: This chablis is packed full of citrus flavours and notes of green apple with bright acidity and fresh minerality. It makes a perfect accompaniment to goats’ cheese, fresh seafood and summer salads.

Available here

Mâcon-Lugny AC Les Charmes, £14.99

Country: France

Why I Like It: Mâcon-Lugny is exclusively produced on the historic Les Charmes vineyards located in the villages of Lugny, Bissy and St-Gengoux-de-Scissé. The sun-drenched vineyards of the Maconnais produce full and fruity yet elegant wines. 

Pair It With: This bottle is full of peach and nectarine flavours, with hints of flower blossom and lime – it’s therefore a perfect match for seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Available here 

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